893.00/5518: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in China ( Bell )

216. Your 342, September 12, 4 p.m. The action taken by you as set forth in paragraphs numbered 3 and 4 has the Department’s approval. Apropos of the situation at Shanghai there is quoted below for your confidential information the text of a letter addressed by the Department to the Secretary of the Navy on September 12, 1924, on this subject:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of a telegram, dated September 10, 1924,8 addressed to you by the Commander in-Chief of the Asiatic Station, concerning conditions incident to the civil war in the vicinity of Shanghai.

In the above mentioned telegram it is noted that the Commander in-Chief states that two destroyers are en route to Woosung and that they will deliver a letter from the senior naval officers (presumably of the Powers represented in the Shanghai waters) to the two Chinese gunboats, and further that the substance of the letter is that the Nanking navy will not be permitted to enter the Whangpu and that no firing will be allowed in the Whangpu River. A careful reading of the telegram does not disclose that any notice of a similar character was communicated to the Nanking navy and it does not appear that any notice was communicated to the two Chekiang boats that they would not be permitted to remain in the Whangpu (apparently the two Chekiang boats are at Woosung, presumably just inside the mouth of the Whangpu). It appears that the ‘Chinese gunboats’ referred to are affiliated with the Chekiang forces which are defending Shanghai. A correct interpretation of the telegram therefore would seem to be that the senior naval officers have informed the Chekiang commander that the Nanking navy, which represents the Kiangsu forces that are attacking Shanghai, will not be permitted to enter the Whangpu River.

In view of the above circumstances I fear that the naval authorities of the Powers represented in the Whangpu waters may be subjecting themselves to the charge of favoring one side as against the other in the present factional disturbance, and that the naval authorities, in the absence of any imminent danger or threat to foreign life and property, [Page 376] were not warranted in forbidding the mere entrance of Chinese naval vessels into the Whangpu as distinguished from any activity which might threaten such life and property.”

  1. Not printed.